Did you know that your average car is 47% steel? Of course, there’s also plastic, aluminium and glass – plus lots of materials you might not expect, such as copper and platinum. So leading players in the automotive industry have come together to push responsible sourcing – and the steel industry is acting in parallel, with ArcelorMittal as a driving force.
Over ten years ago, big hitters in the European automotive industry such as BMW, Ford and Volvo started talking to each other about how improve sustainability in their supply chain. In 2013, they launched an official coalition: the European Automotive Working Group. From this came guiding principles, an NQC-run centralised assessment platform for suppliers, standardised tools and capacity building. Since 2016, this self-assessment questionnaire has been integrated into the buying platforms of all coalition members. Meeting sustainability standards is now part and parcel of selling materials to key car manufacturers in Europe.
The challenge for ArcelorMittal hasn’t been in fulfilling the requirements – we were already working in this way – but in evidencing this for each of our 16 European sites on NQC to each of our four automotive customers using the platform. In other words, this has mostly been about showing that we have our house in order. We wanted to go further, and so did the car industry.
In 2017, the initiative was relaunched as Drive Sustainability with a raw materials initiative: a road map for integrating sustainability into the supply chain for the 17 raw materials with the highest risk, including steel. Our industry’s answer? ResponsibleSteel.
Working with industry peers, we’ve set up the first global multi-stakeholder standard and certification initiative for steel. This non-profit organisation exists to give businesses and consumers confidence that the steel they use has been sourced and produced responsibly at all levels of the supply chain. ResponsibleSteel welcomes members from every stage of the steel supply chain – customers, suppliers, NGOs, trade unions, government bodies – and is working in partnership with the mining industry (the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance and the Mining Association of Canada). 2018/19 will see the completion of an independent ISEAL-compliant certification standard that will become an internationally recognised and respected standard for steel.
All of this is part of a growing appreciation of the value of sustainable working practices. There’s no question that the trend of industry coalitions, such as Drive Sustainability, is changing how our industry works. This, in turn, is being driven as much by the concerns of investors and consumers as it is by governments and regulation. Our ambition at ArcelorMittal is to meet the requirements of customer initiatives like Drive Sustainability in every aspect of what we do – and then to go beyond them to become the pace setter in sustainable steel production through ResponsibleSteel.
“BMW Group has defined sustainability criteria that all our first-tier suppliers need to meet. Moreover, we are engaging in supply chains with high sustainability exposure to set up certification systems.”
Dr Alexander Nick – Head of Sustainability Strategy and Management, BMW Group
Image – Volkswagen